The Black Notebook
And now Jackson turned his eyes slowly towards George and blinked slowly, like someone who has been hit. And George stayed quiet, waiting. Then Jackson said: ‘You don’t want us to leave, baas?’
I don’t know how much that meant. Perhaps Jackson had known about his wife all the time. It certainly sounded like it then. But George shut his eyes a moment, then stammered out something, and it sounded ludicrous, like an idiot talking. Then he stumbled out of the kitchen.
We half-lifted, half-pushed Jimmy out of the kitchen, and we said: ‘Good night, Jackson, thank you for trying to help Baas Jimmy.’ But he did not answer.
We put Jimmy to bed, Paul and I. As we came down from the bedroom block through the wet dark, we heard George talking to Willi a dozen paces away. Willi was saying: ‘Quite so.’ And ‘Obviously.’ And ‘Very likely.’ And George was getting more and more vehement and incoherent.
Paul said in a low voice: ‘Oh, my God, Anna, come with me now.’
‘I can’t,’ I said.
‘I might leave the country any day now. I might never see you again.’
‘You know I can’t.’
Without replying he walked off into the dark, and I was just going after him when Willi came up. We were close to our bedroom, and we went into it. Willi said: ‘It’s the best thing that can have happened. Jackson and family will leave and George will come to his senses.’
‘This means, almost for certain, that the family will have to split up. Jackson won’t have his family with him again.’
Willi said: ‘That’s just like you. Jackson’s been lucky enough to have his family. Most of them can’t. And now he’ll be like the others. That’s all. Have you been weeping and wailing because of all the others without their families?’
‘No, I’ve been supporting policies that should put an end to the whole bloody business.’
‘Quite. And quite right.’
‘But I happen to know Jackson and his family. Sometimes I can’t believe you mean the things you say.’
‘Of course you can’t. Sentimentalists can never believe in anything but their own emotions.’
‘And it’s not going to make any difference to George. Because the tragedy of George is not Marie but George. When she goes there’ll be someone else.’
‘It might teach him a lesson,’ said Willi, and his face was ugly as he said it.